Kalamazoo Balances Budget With Job Cuts And Tax Increase

Posted at 10:35 PM, Jan 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-08 05:48:49-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – It wasn’t a unanimous decision, but on Monday night the Kalamazoo city commission passed a budget for the upcoming year.

In order to get to a balanced budget, people living in the city will be paying 1 percent more on their property taxes.

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell called it déjà vu, as the commissioners talked over the pros and cons of the 2013 budget that passed with a 5- to- 2 vote.

The cost of running the city for 2013 will be $49.2 million, about a $500,000 less than last year.

The number of city employees also fell to 674, 85 fewer than last year.

Early retirement incentives  will take people off the payroll, but commissioners said it will affect city services.

To help with declining property tax revenue, the city plans to tap the $1.65 million rainy day fund and raise an additional 5350,000 a year with a 1 percent administrative fee on homeowners in the city.

That means a person who owns a home worth $150,000 will pay $15 a year to the city.

In the city budget, sixty cents of every dollar goes to the public safety, meaning fire fighters, emergency workers, and police, but even they will be expected to do more with less.

Lower staff levels means people can expect other services like pothole repair and lawn care.

Next year’s budget already on the minds of commissioners. Merging with the county and sharing services and costs may be a solution, and something that will likely be on the table next year.